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Alexei Navalny in Navalny, a 2022 US documentary about his life (IMDB/Madman)

A senior Russian Catholic has urged Church leaders abroad to commemorate Alexei Navalny, as armed police dispersed citizens mourning the opposition leader’s death in a remote prison camp. Source: NCR Online. 

“When I heard he was dead, I recalled the words of St Luke’s Gospel, ‘Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace’ – he did everything he could for his country, and I thank God such people still exist,” said the Moscow-based lay Catholic.

“The Catholic Church in Russia doesn’t speak out on sensitive issues – though we’ve been here for centuries, we still feel like we’re in a ghetto, keeping quiet so no one will notice us. But I really hope memorial services will be held in other countries – that even the Pope might join prayers in his memory.”

The Catholic, who asked not to be named, spoke as Mr Navalny’s family requested handover of his body, amid international revulsion at the veteran dissident’s suspicious death.

She said fellow Catholics in Russia had long feared Mr Navalny’s end was being “brought closer” by his harsh detention conditions, which included 27 punitive spells in solitary confinement over three years.

She added that some Church members had defied police pressure and requested prayers in his memory, while grieving his death as “a pain and tragedy, and a loss of hope.”

“Although not all Catholics agreed with everything he said and did during his short life, no one would deny his courage,” said the Catholic, a university lecturer who also works with Caritas.

Mr Navalny’s death at the age of 47 at a Siberian penal colony, where he was serving a 19-year sentence, was attributed it to “sudden death syndrome”.

Meanwhile, at least 400 Russians were reported to have been arrested while commemorating Mr Navalny across the country, as police removed flowers and candles in his memory.

The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said news of Mr Navalny’s death has caused “sadness” and surprised the Holy See, adding that he had personally hoped the opposition leader’s plight could be “resolved differently”.


Russian Catholics stage ‘quiet commemorations’ for deceased dissident Navalny (By Jonathan Luxmoore, OSV News via NCR Online)